Kanmantoo, a small historic settlement in the Mount Lofty Ranges, has a quaintness about it of earlier days. Kanmantoo, with a long mining history, has surviived the booms and busts of those eras. The town is about 55kms from Adelaide on the Princes Highway between Nairne and Callington.
Currently there are plans to bring the Kanmantoo Mine back into production with other satellite deposits such as Emily Star Prospect, 400m south of the mine. The mining company Hillgrove began explorations in the area in 2003 and their findings have been pleasing. It is envisaged the Kanmantoo Project is likely to evolve rapidly.
Kanmantoo township had its beginnings when copper traces were discovered in the district by Joseph Lean on land belonging to the South Australian Company. The Kanmantoo Mine began in 1846. A tunnel was dug into the hill to tap into the copper load and a railway track installed to truck the ore outside. At its height, the mine employed up to thirty miners on tribute (commission) and a number of boys to sort and bag the ore ready for transport to Port Adelaide. Most were Cornish with a few Irish and some German from Hahndorf. Problems in finding transport teams were encountered as most of the bullock teams worked for the rich Burra and Kapunda copper mines. Local farmers found transporting ore a welcome additional source of income. The mine closed in 1874.
During the Depression years of the 1930's a few prospectors tried their luck in the district. In the 1960's Kanmantoo had a resurgence when explorations discovered a major new ore body and the Kanmantoo Mines Ltd was formed. Mining took on a new lease of life with the removal of overburden to establish modern open cut mining and processing the ore onsite with a concentrating plant. The mine closed in 1976 after low copper prices. The mine had reached a depth of two hundred metres and produced 36,000 tons of copper.